When Jo Saxe, a senior official at the World Bank, died, friends wanted to send flowers. His widow, an ever-practical Minnesotan, told them to send money instead. “We’ll start a fellowship in his name,” said Ruth Saxe. And that’s exactly what she did. For nearly three decades, Ruth, and Ellie Sachse, one of Jo’s colleague at the bank, raised money to give to young people who aspire to do public service in the summer. Ruth, a former administrator at the Peace Corps, loved the idea of student volunteering overseas. Every spring, she invited the all-volunteer board to the Georgetown home that she had shared with Jo. The group discussed the applicants for hours, and came up with a list of students they believed in. Afterward, the board ate a fantastic dinner, cooked by Ruth.
Ruth and Ellie and the other board members didn’t take a salary. They administered the fund themselves. They answered emails, updated the website, filed the IRS tax returns, and sent receipts. Ellie spent countless hours personally photocopying applications and to mail out in giant packets board members. They did it because they loved Jo, and they loved the board they had created, and they loved the idea of helping students achieve their dreams of volunteering. Over thirty years, they attended board members’ weddings and funerals. They threw parties to meet the students they had helped, and even recruited some of them to serve on the board.
Ellie passed away in 2012. Around the same time, Ruth’s health began failing. It became impossible for the fund to operate as it had before. In the summer of 2013, the board members voted to transfer the fund to Harvard’s Center for Public Interest Careers, which administers a similar fund to support students in summer volunteer opportunities. But the selfless example of the J. W. Saxe Board continues to inspire students, just as Jo Saxe had inspired people during his life.
PAST OFFICERS — 1984 to 2013
PRESIDENT, Ruth MacKenzie Saxe – Widow of J. W. Saxe, has taught English, worked as an editor, and in the 1960′s and 1970′s was involved in the development and management of the Peace Corps and Common Cause. Mother and grandmother.
VICE PRESIDENT & SECRETARY, Elinor Yudin Sachse – Former colleague of Jo Saxe at the World Bank. An economist, she is now working as a freelance photographer. She and her husband, a lawyer specializing in American Indian matters, are active in community affairs. They have two grown children and are now grandparents.
TREASURER, Jeffrey Katz – Former colleague of Jo Saxe, Jeff spent his entire career at the World Bank, most recently working in the Africa division. He retired in 2006, but continues to be involved in world affairs. He has a grown son.
SELECTION CHAIR, David Cohen – Former president of Common Cause, expert on Congress, cofounder of the Advocacy Institute with which he did consultations worldwide, now working with Civic Ventures and the Council for a Livable World. He and his late wife, Carla, founder of famed DC bookstore, Politics & Prose, have grown children and grandchildren.
Members of the J. W. Saxe Fund Board of Directors
Pauline W. Chen, MD ’85 Liver transplant surgeon now working as a lecturer and writer on medical issues. Mother of twin girls, lives in Massachusetts with her husband, a specialist in international education. Her book, Final Exams: A Young Surgeon’s Reflections on Mortality was published in 2007 by Knopf. She received her Saxe Prize for work in a health project with elderly Chinese in San Francisco.
Julia Fayngold Covey ’91 – Lawyer, previously with the U.S. Justice Department, then taught at Whittier Law School. Currently practices law part-time. Lives in Atlanta with her husband, who teaches law. Mother of two boys. A Russian speaker, she received a Saxe Prize for work with Russian immigrants in Israel.
Michael Crawford ’93 – Senior science and technology specialist/Africa Region, at the World Bank. He received his Saxe Prize for work in literacy in La Gonave, Haiti. He has a young daughter.
Rachel Goldwasser ’01 – She and her husband are both graduates in law and environment from the Vermont College of Law and Yale School of Forestry. Rachel now practices environmental law in New Hampshire. She received her Saxe Prize for teaching troubled students in rehab at Nashville Community High School.
Farah Stockman ’96 – Now the foreign affairs reporter for the Boston Globe. Formerly reported for the Globe in Boston and earlier from Africa where she lived for four years. Founder and president of Jitegemee, a school — still operating — for street children which she founded after winning a Saxe Prize for a year’s work with homeless children in Machakos, Kenya.
Joan B. Shorey – Lifelong activist with experience in environmental, charitable and community work. She and her husband are involved in their large family and active in national and local political and community affairs.
Sam Rovit – Son in law of J.W. Saxe; Partner, Bain & Company where he leads the global Agribusiness Practice; former Pres. & CEO Swift & Co. He and his wife Abigail have three children.
Former Board Members
Natalie Saxe Randall